During the shutdown, some scientists can't talk about science

I'm a guest of honor this weekend at the Dallas's Fencon this weekend, and I've just learned that some of the other speakers won't be able to talk, thanks to the government shutdown. They're government space scientists, and the 143-year-old Antideficiency Act makes it a crime (punishable by fines and imprisonment) for government employees to volunteer to do their own jobs (which, in their cases, includes talking about science to the public). The law dates back to the Lincoln administration, and was aimed at stopping fraudsters who did "government" business, then presented a bill for services that hadn't been contracted but had nevertheless been performed -- a kind of Civil War era version of red-light windscreen squeegeeing.

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  1. Pluto says:

    A more nonsense. Budget cuts already forced american scientist to not go to international conferences, but this is just insane. What if they say they only speak for themselves?

  2. …the 143-year-old Antideficiency Act makes it a crime (punishable by fines and imprisonment) for government employees to volunteer to do their own jobs…

    Just out of curiosity, who enforces the Antideficiency Act in the event of a government shutdown?

  3. Vigilante government employees, obviously. No, wait...

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